Janice Fialka -- Bio
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Janice Fialka, LMSW, ACSW is a nationally-recognized lecturer, author, and advocate on issues related to disability,
parent-professional partnerships, inclusion, raising a child with
disabilities, sibling issues, and post-secondary education.
She is also a parent, poet, a compelling storyteller, and an
award-winning advocate for families and persons with disabilities.
A sought-after presenter, Janice has provided the keynote address and
workshops at numerous renowned national, state, and local conferences
throughout the United States and Canada. Janice also conducts workshops
for schools, human service organizations, and parent and advocacy
Twenty years ago, Janice established herself as a major contributor to
the national conversation about parent-professional partnerships
through her highly-regarded writings, keynote, and workshops titled, The Dance of Partnership: Why do my feet hurt?
She reflects with sensitivity, humor, and compassion on the challenges
facing parents and professionals as they seek to build successful
working relationships on behalf of children with disabilities. Janice
speaks and writes from both her unique vantage point as the mother of
Micah, her adult son with an intellectual disability and as an
experienced social worker of 40 years. Her writings are published
widely in textbooks, journals, and family and professional
publications. Janice's trainings and writings are empowering, deeply
engaging, and always practical.
Learn more about her son, Micah Fialka Feldman, a disability activist and speaker. Micah was recently appointed to the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Micah is featured in a forthcoming documentary by the award-winning filmmaker, Dan Habib (creator of Including Samuel). Watch the 14 minute trailer of Intelligent Lives (working title) which explores how some people with intellectual disabilities are blazing a bold new path.
|Put on your dancing shoes and explore!
|About Janice Fialka
Janice and learn about her philosophy and how she creatively uses the
dance metaphor to empower others to discover their courage to dream.
|Workshops & Trainings
presents workshops on numerous topics. Learn more about her trainings
on parent professional partnerships. Contact her for your next event.
Workshops & Trainings >>
|Publications & DVDs
Explore Janice's publications, books, poetry, and her award-winning DVD, co-produced with her husband Rich Feldman, Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College.
Janice's Newest Articles (Discover more articles and essays)
the years, Janice has written several essays about being Micah's
mother. Her stories are honest, insightful, and full of practical ways
she's discovered to support her son's dreams, full inclusion, and great
expectations for his life.
These recently added articles can be downloaded for free.
Nudging the Network (PDF)
- Janice and her family learn that it takes regular, open and
intentional conversations to support Micah's peers and community to
include him in 5th grade basketball games, at the prom, in school, and
in the community. (2008)
Detours, Not Dead Ends: Micah's dream to live in a dorm (PDF)
- Janice tells the story of how Micah's university friends supported
him when he was denied his right to live in the dorm. Included are
lessons learned about ways to support Micah as he moved into adulthood.
What's a Parent to Do? Micah's College Dream (PDF)
- Janice shares how she and her husband learned to listen and support
Micah's dream to go to college. She describes how parents have to move
from being 'protectors' to 'guides' of their children. Included in her
essay are several practical principles that guide her family as they
shift in their parenting role. This article is followed by The Power of Inclusion: Personal Reflections on Creating Change written by Shea Howell, PhD, a university professor who was one of Micah's professors. (2011)
Hidden Treasures Behind Closed Doors (PDF)
- Janice and her husband, Rich tell the story of Micah's long legal
battle to live in the dorm. She describes how this fight transformed
his community and strengthened his self confidence, capacity to
advocate, and connection to his expanding circle. This article is
followed by Micah's The Power of Inclusion: Personal Reflections on Creating Change. The third article in this series is written by Micah's sister, Emma Fialka Feldman, My Brother's Journey: A Sibling's Perspective about College and What Comes Next. (2013)
Essay by Janice (2013): How Roger Ebert's clarity and courage helped me redefine my son's disability.
Interview with Janice (2013):
Janice talks about Micah's birth and childhood and how she and her
family came to expect that Micah be welcomed as a valued member of the
community and school, not in spite of his "disability" but because,
like everyone, his experience is unique and essential to the whole.
Janice's Newest Publication
Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities: A Dance That Matters
By Janice M. Fialka, Arlene K. Feldman and Karen C. Mikus
Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull
Nominated for the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers!
Written from both the parentÂ’s and the professionalÂ’s points-of-view,
this book is rich with stories, examples, and practical suggestions.
Using dance as a metaphor, the authors provide a developmental approach
to understanding and forging positive adult relationships while showing
concrete ways to advocate for and with children.
Read what people are saying about the book.
To order the book, visit Publications.
does a book hold such promise for promoting genuine partnerships
between professionals and families of children with disabilities. The
real-life passages, from the authors, seasoned parents and experienced
professionals infuse this work with practical approaches and
—Susan Addison, Special Educator, Retired, Chattanooga, TN
understandable, jargon-free language, the authors help professionals
and parents understand each othersÂ’ viewpoints. I highly recommend his
book for novice and veteran parents and professionals."
—Stephanie Smith Lee, Former Director, Office of Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education
Poems by Janice:
|What people say about Janice:
speaks with passion, wisdom, and heart. She is easily capable of moving
you to tears, with her personal stories, while providing precious
pearls of wisdom for parents and professionals."
--Joseph Manary, Counselor, Alpena, Michigan
you were the star of MarylandÂ’s State Department of Education's Annual
Conference! Our thanks goes to you for bringing your message to
families and professionals in such a compassionate, humorous, and
personal way. You moved an entire room of people to tears, and good
tears, for it was through your story that we all made personal
realizations necessary for transforming our work as partners."
--Valerie Von Behren, Maryland State Department of Education